Valley bowlers show improvement under 1st-year coach

Monday, January 10, 2022 | 11:03 AM

First-year Valley bowling coach Walt Livingston has a young team with only one senior. But that does not mean the group lacks the enthusiasm and commitment to the sport.

“I’ve got 13 bowlers who are loyal to the game and loyal to the school. I feel honored that they let me coach them,” Livingston said.

Livingston has been coaching youth bowling for more than 40 years at Wildlife Lanes in New Kensington. All that experience already is paying dividends for the Vikings, who have seen several bowlers achieve best scores this season.

“My goal is to make all our bowlers better,” he said. “There are some bad habits that have been established that need to become new, good habits.”

Some of those bad habits included bowling off the wrong foot and not having the proper equipment to gain success. Livingston has been able to help his bowlers do the right things and get what they need.

“My first day we had the athlete bowling on the correct foot, and he’s still doing that today. As a matter of fact, he’s thrown the highest game of his lifetime as a result,” he said.

Junior Josh Norton rolled a 199 during Week 4 of the season, which helped raise his average to 117. Freshman Victoria Dameron also has seen some improvement despite a low average; she rolled a 121 and a 131 in practice last week, more than 50 pins above her early-season average.

“The 121 was her highest ever game,” Livingston said. “I went over and gave her a high-five, and she came back the next game and threw a 131. She was thrilled to death.”

Another factor in the game is having the right equipment. Many bowlers start out using house balls, which are plastic and do not allow for the proper friction to be able to find the pocket. Livingston made sure his bowlers had the right gear.

“I have a good friend who is well known in the bowling community, and I reached out to him to see if he had any old balls he was getting rid of,” he said. “He said yes, just go down to the pro shop. They had four balls that they wanted to give to kids.

“When you throw a plastic ball, you don’t get any hook out of it. Now they are throwing resin reactive balls and smashing the pins.”

The Valley boys team started the season 2-2. Isaac Kelly is the lone senior and team leader. He has a 157 average with a 209 high game and 543 high series. Junior Lane Howard has posted a 168 average with a 212 high game. Three other juniors round out the boys squad in Devin Bryant (145 average), Zach Doran (132) and Alex Kenney (134).

The Vikings girls team is 1-3. Freshman Alexandra Thomey is the average leader at 116. Livingston also has two grandchildren on the girls team in juniors Hannah Stone and Jill Lewandowski ,who both carry a 108 average. Falon Himes (91) and Natalie Beckes (97) complete the lineup for the Valley girls.

“(Hannah and Jill) have also been using plastic balls and carrying 120-130 scores,” Livingston said. “Hannah got a ball drilled for her last year, and Jill is getting one in the next couple weeks. When she gets the resin reactive ball, it’s just going to increase her scores.”

Both teams have been pretty receptive of Livingston’s teachings. It has to be easy when several of the team members are making progress to listen to his expertise.

“Most times they will say ‘I can’t’ and I say, ‘Yes you can, you can do anything,’ ” Livingston said.

Plum, Burrell, Gateway, Penn Hills and Redeemer Lutheran join Valley in the East Section 1.


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